John McCoy an Illustrator and Fine Artist based in Cincinnati, Ohio. His work is predominantly digitally and traditionally painted illustrations, created for various venues and projects, including public installation, murals, magazines, and books.
As with “The Crucifixion” Mural I painted half a year earlier, Mother Mary nurtured a path for creating the St. Dominic’s Mural—through that path a new dimension of Her maternal character was revealed to me and with it came a fuller awareness of the nature of my vocation as a Catholic Artist. Events in my personal life at the time brought valleys and peaks to my faith and emotions. This undulation imprinted itself into the painting’s composition. The Holy Spirit breathed into me a theme of the unconditional presence of Jesus through His Mother amid the fluctuating circumstances of life. The arching ‘M’ shaped clouds in the painting were a symbol that resounded and deepened in my heart as paint-layers amassed, signifying the protective and guiding embrace of Our Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe. As I focused on illustrating the Saints wrapped in Her mantle, She was gently stirring my soul to realize I am among them, receiving the same gift of Her love, being lead ever closer to Her Son, Jesus.
Throughout history the Saints have stood on soft or rough patches of earth in situations of good or ill but in the company of She whose soul does magnify the Light of the World (Magnificat)—the mural’s design began with that Light radiating from the bosom of the Virgin. I penciled the humble St. Juan Diego knelt before Our Lady of Guadalupe and reflected on God the Father’s presence symbolized by rays of sun, and Her womb glowing, pregnant with the child Jesus.
In Grand Rapids each day ripe with lessons unfolded before me with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I was lead in how I should spend my time and how I should pray. I was lead in all my choices. Grand Rapids brought growth in character. At times I was given the great gift of a little dryness in which to stand on my own two feet and to carry out my duties and prayers with good will. Jesus is always with me as He promised (Matthew 28:20), but “whom the Lord loves, he disciplines” (Hebrews 12:6) and “For in fire gold is tested,
and the chosen, in the crucible of humiliation” (Sirach 2:5). I was gifted with opportunities to be good even when nobody was watching, to demonstrate integrity always, and to transform negativity. When loneliness came and I felt isolated, I cried in prayer and Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows embraced me and brought me to remember the Passion of Jesus.
Transversely through that suffering I began to learn that a deep privilege of my vocation as a Catholic Artist is to nurture the creation of the painting as Mary nurtures me. In previous blog posts I touch on my discovery about my work in being a vessel for the Holy Spirit to work through. Now I realize more deeply that what I go through, what fills the vessel of me: the emotions, ideas, and experiences in my life during the time I am creating a work of Sacred art are all meaningful and allow me to fill the artwork with that meaning. I am to walk with the suffering and walk with the joy, because as I paint layer by layer the substance of the inspirations is imbued into my art. A mother cannot merely stand beside her child when it suffers. She feels the suffering and walks with it, and through that maternal love the child heals and grows. What is meaningful is personal, and Meaning itself is a person: Jesus Christ.
Mary carries Meaning in Her womb. Our Lady of Guadalupe is pregnant with the child, Jesus. In my painting I want Him to be the source of light along with the sun—that light radiates through the composition to touch each Saint in his or her life and in their suffering. It is my hope that the viewer, wherever he or she may see the painting, will recognize in the Saints a glimpse of his or her own life with all its trials and joys; and by recognizing that communion, realize the love and mercy of Jesus radiating through His mother Mary, extending through the Saints, empowering the Church to be the hands and feet of Jesus, who alone is the way to the Father.
Watch Painting Process videos, Artist Talks, and the blessing of the St. Dominic's Mural by Monsenor Diego Monroy Ponce and Bishop Walkowiak on the John McCoy Art YouTube Channel
I'm traveling back up to Grand Rapids in a week to create a new mural painting for St. Dominic's Catholic Parish near the town of Wyoming, GR. Seven Saints, among them Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Teresa of Calcutta, will be depicted in the sanctuary space near to the Blessed Sacrament. This marks the second commission in Grand Rapids, the first being the "One in the Body of Christ" mural for All Saints Academy's Middle School campus.
The Saints chosen will represent the diversity of our Catholic faith and the multiplicity of stories and talents in the Body of Christ. The size of the mural will be determined on site, but it will be larger than the 5x12' All Saints Academy mural. Grace and the seeds of inspiration are present in me, given by the Holy Spirit, though what He will lead me to paint is still somewhat a mystery.
Even now, before praying my daily Rosary, I ask the Lord for direction and I trust in Jesus and the providence of the Father. I am a home body and traveling to a distant city to play my unique role as an Apostle of Beauty is a cross like a darkened log with rose gold embers glowing within; there is deep joy in the unfolding and flowering of the painting and the life I live while making it. All of the interactions and friendships I build, all of the prayers in solitude are meaningful and are integral to the painting process. They are fuel for the journey and for the painting, which is fhe fruit of the journey.